With fearless Commander Dubya at the throttle, Spaceship Earth surges into uncharted regions of space/time. As a senior White House official famously asserted to writer Ron Suskind, “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality… we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” So it would seem. Consider recent developments:
* Bush continues to put wolves in charge of the henhouse. He appoints John R. Bolton, who detests the United Nations, to become our ambassador there. To head the World Bank, Bush nominates Paul Wolfowitz, one of the original neo-cons who steered us into Iraq and misstated--by hundreds of billions of dollars--the true cost of occupying and rebuilding that country. For U.S. attorney general--essentially America's top cop--Bush nominates Alberto Gonzalez, who once wrote memos in defense of torture. For secretary of state, he appoints Condoleezza Rice, despite her history of promoting war, insulting old allies, misrepresenting a variety of issues and mishandling homeland security prior to 9/11. Already most energy and environmental regulatory agencies are run by officials hostile to the regulations they're paid to enforce, a direct result of Bush appointments.
* Orwellian media manipulation becomes the norm. Several newspaper columnists admit to taking thousands of dollars in exchange for promoting Bush policies. One Jeff Gannon, a porno web-master and apparent prostitute with a fake ID, inexplicably gains press credentials and security clearance to sit in on White House press conferences and toss softball questions to White House officials, who have been busy, lately, producing and distributing fake news reports to TV stations. Meanwhile, the New York Times reveals it sat on a story just before the 2004 presidential election that would have shown Bush relied on an ear-phone for help during his debates with John Kerry. Likewise, it turns out the White House managed to squelch a report from the 9/11 Commission that showed the Federal Aviation Administration had numerous warnings about terrorist hijackings and duly passed them on to the administration. Like the Valerie Plame affair and many other acts and initiatives under Bush this would be a huge scandal if not for the Republican power monopoly and the absence of a special prosecutor to initiate investigations and order subpoenas.
* The war in Iraq enters Year Three and the casualty toll climbs. More than 1,500 American soldiers have been killed there, plus a couple of hundred civilian workers. More than 30,000 have been shot, burnt, mangled, emotionally damaged or otherwise made ill enough to be air lifted out. Somewhere between 15,000 and 200,000 Iraqis have died, depending on who's counting.
* More torture comes to light. The U.S. has regularly turned prisoners of war over to other nations in order that they might be tortured, according to Newsweek. In fact, for months we kept a jet plane fueled and staffed just for that purpose. Meanwhile, revelations of abuse at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere surface.
* Without serious press scrutiny, Donald Rumsfeld asserts the right to direct spying inside the United States with no oversight to speak of.
* Bush initiates a plan to “save social security” by allowing beneficiaries to siphon off money and use it for stock market trading. How this will make the system solvent remains a mystery.
* Bush displays his continued addiction to fossil fuels by pushing to open the Alaska Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, while underfunding conservation and clean energy programs.
This list only scratches the surface. Add to it the Halliburton scandal, the under-funding of veterans's programs, the on-going genocide in Darfur, the trade and federal budget deficits, new revelations that global warming has accelerated, the building of permanent-looking bases in Iraq and much more, and you begin to glimpse Dubya's visions for the future of Space Ship Earth.
I'll revisit them as space and time and local relevance permit.